If you’re already blogging, you know that operating a blog is a great way to share your perspectives, inspire discussion, and connect with like-minded individuals. But did you know that blogging can also land you a dream job? It happened to me and it can happen to you, too.
As an experiment, I started to include an invitation to visit my website anytime I sent out a job application. I’d expected to generate a bit of traffic by doing this, and to show more of my personality than I could communicate in a brief cover letter, but I did not anticipate the overwhelming, positive response I got from prospective employers who took the time to check out my blog.
They would send emails complimenting my writing style and leave thoughtful comments on my posts. This led to real, personal conversations about mutually important issues that laid common ground when it came time for my interview. And I was told more than once that I was being offered the job because my blog and the discussions it generated gave the hiring committee confidence in both my skills and my character.
Although I’ve since given up my personal blog to make time for the writing I do on behalf of Wild Apricot, I wouldn’t be engaged in the nonprofit work I am passionate about if it weren’t for my early blogging activity.
Benefits of blogging
The aim of any blog, no matter how big or small, is to create conversation. Your website is a venue to introduce ideas and perspectives that matter to you, as well as a venue for others to discover these ideas and respond to them. Online conversations function much like those that happen offline—conversations create connections, and connections create community.
Blogging, however, takes place in a much larger and interconnected environment than most face-to-face discussions. It provides opportunities to network with the figures and organizations at the forefront of the issues that are most important to you, regardless of whether they are in the same city as you or on the opposite side of the country. A good way to gain exposure with companies or foundations that interest you is to follow their blogs and leave thoughtful comments on their posts.
The best personal blogs are, essentially, professional portfolios. If your talent is writing well-researched, thought-provoking articles, show off your skills. If you’re a genius behind a camera lens, include your best shots. Perhaps you’re an involved volunteer contributing to a local nonprofit’s success? Share your stories. Make sure your blog compliments and supplements your resume.
Your blog is more than a home for your great ideas. It is a billboard, of sorts, one that advertises who you are and what you believe in. And a blog is more than a catalog of words and images. It is a place to share your personal aesthetics, both visual and intellectual.
Choose a platform
WordPress, or Blogger, or none of the above? Choosing a host for your blog can feel like a headache, but this doesn’t have to be true. The solution is simple. Check out a few different platforms, create an account, and play around with the tools they provide. Pick the one that provides the most intuitive user experience. This will vary from one person to the next in the same way that some folks prefer PCs, whereas some prefer Macs. If you’re posting great content, the site doesn’t matter. That said, I have always used WordPress for its ease of use and free templates.
Pick your passion
If you’re in the market for a job in environmental advocacy, blog about relevant current affairs and ongoing issues that fire you up. Your blog should be focused on one main area that concerns you to ensure it is consistent, not scattered. For example, my blog documented my volunteer experiences training for, planning, and running benefit races in my home town.
Blogs that are frequently updated draw more attention than those that are not. Sticking to a regular publishing schedule demonstrates dedication and good time management. This also shows that you are active in the community of which you are a part, and that you’re paying attention to that community’s ongoing conversations. Choose a schedule you can keep, whether that is once a week or once a month. I would post once every other week; this gave me enough time to write and edit great posts without stressing out.
Showcase your skills
Think of your blog as a way to show off your strongest attributes. Post about your personal successes and model your knack for critical thinking, communication, and community engagement. I’m a writer, so it was easy to convey that in my posts. I’m not a shutterbug, however, so I talked to a friend who was and asked them to help me out by photographing events.
Stir up discussion
A good blog is home to many voices and captures multiple facets of complex issues. After sharing your own perspective, pose a question and invite your audience to chime in in the comments. Respond to any replies you receive and embrace your role as a facilitator of meaningful discussion.
You can also connect with other bloggers who talk about the ideas of your own. If you design your blog to be a home for thoughtful conversation, you’ll be more likely to attract the eye of experts in the field who may turn out to be potential employers. Another strategy that I have always been fond of is inviting contacts to provide a guest post. This incorporates another voice into your blog and gives you the opportunity to engage the author in a dialogue in the comments section.
You want your blog to be a point of pride. If you wouldn’t want a current or future employer to see it, you might need to make some changes. A professional blog is fair, balanced, and avoids logic that relies on assumptions rather than facts. If I wrote a particularly impassioned post, I would postpone publishing it for a few days so I could return to it with fresh eyes and make sure I hadn’t said anything I didn’t mean.
Not convinced blogging is for you?
- Check out Joshua Becker’s list of reasons you should reconsider.
- Want more nitty-gritty tips to get you started? The Minimalists have also put together this handy guide. If you’re ready for something a little more advanced, I recommend this article on how to build great, interactive content on your website or blog.
Victoria Michelson writes for Wild Apricot, a membership management software provider whose mission is to help nonprofits accelerate their success. She spends her free time learning how to cook (finally!) and running races to support community organizations in Boise, ID.